Read here for a brief description of the liturgical season of Epiphany. See the 2015 WALKING EPIPHANY posts here. Also, don't miss the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking questions for your own neighborhood, listed at the end of this post.
Prompt: Practice resurrection
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
Wendell Berry"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage (1973)There's a bit of irony to our post following up Bethany's beautiful post about Community First! Village and the description of her home as "a neighborhood designed in every way to facilitate community with and among its inhabitants, most of whom have endured chronic homelessness for much of their lives." Wes and I moved to the suburbs about 6 years ago after spending the first 7 years of our marriage living in the spacious countryside of upstate NY.
We've often said that we feel a bit like foreigners to this way of living. In many ways, the suburbs are the opposite of what Bethany described - instead of facilitating community among its inhabitants, the suburbs seem to be designed to protect their homeowners from the inconveniences that community can bring. From automatic garage door openers to the well-built fences to the deserted front porches, it's possible to hide from any type of interactions with a neighbor with very little effort.
Our first two big projects on our fixer-upper home were intentionally planned to create space for and facilitate community - a finished basement and a backyard patio. In the winter months, we host football parties and enjoy the sounds of generally raucous behavior from our boys playing with their neighbor friends. In the summertime, our patio becomes a hub for parties, cookouts, campfires, and jam sessions while our yard becomes whatever the imaginations of the current group of children playing in it want it to be.
Prompt: God's household
Life, breath, food, companionship -- every good thing is a gift from the abundant providence of God. The kingdom of God, this great economy, is embodied in the world when God's people respond to God's provision with gratitude, sharing God's gifts generously with others. The word economy reminds us again that creation is God's household; we are tasked with sustaining it and keeping it in the order God intended. It should be a place where all humans and all creatures are loved and honored and where generosity is commonplace.
C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
Prompt: Salt and light
The way of being salt and light is a role (a part and position) that Christians are called to in the world. It is a role that requires us to take up a place in our world, at work, at school, and in the neighborhood. Christians are called to imagine another world, and to do so by living amid the divisiveness, alienation, suffering, and violence, as well as the good things, the loves and hopes of where we live now.... However, we are called to make a home that is not established on our own authority and perfection, but instead is set on the foundation of repentance, forgiveness, mutual care and correction, and reconciliation.
David Matzko McCarthy
Prompt: Liked so much as this place
Ma hummed softly to herself while the iron smoothed all the wrinkles out of the little dresses. All around them, to the very edge of the world, there was nothing but grasses waving in the wind. Far overhead, a few white puffs of cloud sailed in the thin blue air. Laura was very happy. The wind sang a low, rustling song in the grass. Grasshoppers' rasping quivered up from all the immense prairie. A buzzing came faintly from all the trees in the creek bottoms. But all these sounds made a great, warm, happy silence. Laura had never seen a place she liked so much as this place.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Wes and Kaley have found a home in Telford, PA with their three boys Griffin, Lincoln and Cade. When Wes isn't youth pastoring and Kaley isn't blogging, they spend their days dodging Nerf bullets, trying to make people think they are funny, and discussing the mysteries of life together over Trader Joe's coffee.
What about your neighborhood?
- Do you live in a neighborhood where neighbors naturally get to know each other? If so, what are some of the things they do to make that happen?
- Are there any cultural practices in place so that your neighbors are able to get to know each other? (associations, community centers, annual block parties, newsletters)
- What are some ways your neighborhood is generous to each other? Put another way, what are some of ways your neighborhood naturally loves and honors others?
- In what ways have you been or do you hope to be salt and light in your neighborhood?
- In your own neighborhood, when do you have the sense that you’ve “never seen a place you liked as much as this place”? What does it sound and look like in those moments? Where are you walking when you feel this way?